SBF’s Estate and Facilities Management Lighthouse Project seeks to transform the jobs of essential services workers in the sector.

An industry-wide effort in collaboration between SBF, seven industry partners and four Trade Association Chambers (TACs), the Estate and Facilities Management (EFM) Lighthouse Project aims to improve the livelihoods of essential services workers in the EFM  space,  including but not limited to cleaning, landscaping, security, pest control, concierge, mechanical and electrical (M&E) services as well as customer services.

The EFM Lighthouse Project was initiated in November 2019 following SBF’s proposal for businesses to enhance the career progression and remuneration of essential services workers in the industry.

Seven companies comprising Allgreen Properties, CapitaLand, CBM, Certis Cisco, Far East Organization, ISS Facilities, and Pontiac Land, together with four TACs, the Environmental Management Association of Singapore, Landscape Industry Association of Singapore, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore, and Security Association Singapore, have come together to support the Lighthouse Project and commit to sustainably enhance the livelihoods of trade staff­ in Singapore’s EFM sector.

Through job and process redesign, multi-skilling and cross-industry integration of job functions, and close collaboration between service buyers and providers progressing into an outcome-based approach, the EFM Lighthouse Project demonstrated that trade staff can look forward to better career prospects and remuneration while EFM companies can benefit from improved productivity gains with a skilled and motivated workforce, achieving long term manpower and cost sustainability.

An overdue effort

In an exclusive interview with Ms Jodie Choo, Chairperson of the EFM Lighthouse Project Steering Committee, she highlighted that this programme to uplift EFM workers is long overdue. “If you look at the wages of the essential workers — the cleaners and security guards and landscapers — it’s no secret that when you benchmark them against the median pay in Singapore, they are categorised as low wage. We have known this for a long time.”

“If the companies who employ these people try to address the problem, they won’t be able to do it alone. You need the participation of other stakeholders to come up with a solution,” said Ms Choo, who is also Executive Director and Group Head of Human Resources, Information Technology and Administration, Far East Organization.

“So SBF has brought together the key stakeholders of the industry, namely the buyers and the providers of EFM services, and also the trade associations and chambers to collaborate in this endeavour.”

Pilot projects

Due to the tight labour situation and ageing workforce demographics in Singapore, the EFM Lighthouse Project Steering Committee believes that the buyers and providers of EFM services must explore novel ways to build a skilled and productive workforce to deliver essential functions.

A total of 10 pilot projects were rolled out as a starting point to achieve this objective, each one led by a different stakeholder, and covering various property types. Among other objectives, each project aimed to address the needs and aspirations of the current and future workforce, as well as explore new and innovative service delivery models.

“In our project at Far East Organization we went about looking at time studies to observe how each worker in the different roles does the work. And we realised it was very feasible and very possible to multi-skill them,” explained Ms Choo.

“It didn’t matter whether it was possible to deploy the individual into so many roles at once, because that’s not the goal. The intent is to develop a multi-skilled individual, to improve his or her employability, so that the individual can demonstrate greater productivity and value.”

Scaling solutions

Despite the progress made so far, Ms Choo said that the solution cannot stop at the pilot stage. The next step is to distil the learning points from the projects and scale the solutions generated.

The Lighthouse Project has developed a Job Redesign (JR) Framework for the EFM sector to guide organisations through typical job redesign phases and milestones. This is important as transformative job redesign projects may involve multiple phases that span multiple years.

This JR Framework is designed to be used in conjunction with the JR Toolkit, which contains methodologies and templates utilised by organisations in their job redesign projects. The JR Toolkit is available as a downloadable resource from the SBF Sustainable Employment website.

The Sustainable Employment Pledge

This article is part of a series of features that share the best practices of partners who have taken the Sustainable Employment Pledge. Companies that take the SBF Sustainable Employment Pledge can display the Pledge Partner logo in recognition of their commitment to being a trusted employer and contributor to the Singapore business ecosystem.

If you are our existing Pledge Partner, simply complete this form to start using the Pledge Partner logo. If you have not done so, sign up as a Pledge Partnerhere to begin your sustainable employment journey. If you have any sustainable employment stories to share or refer, we would also love to hear from you here!